Houston Rockets: The 15 greatest centers of all-time

By Tevin Williams
Houston Rockets - Hakeem Olajuwon (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets - Hakeem Olajuwon (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Dikembe Mutombo. 10. 169. . . Center

Dikembe Mutombo had a better career than some of the players ahead of him on this list, but he’s ranked lower because he didn’t join Houston until he was late in his career. Mutombo was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets, where he immediately made an impact.

Mutombo then spent a few years with the Atlanta Hawks before getting traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. In Philadelphia, Mutombo was apart of that special 2001 squad that Allen Iverson somehow led to the NBA Finals, but they fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Mutombo then spent some time with the then New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks before finally arriving in Houston.

As a backup for Yao Ming, Mutombo played just 15.6 minutes per game as a Rocket, but he still averaged 1.1 blocks per game. Over his career, Mutombo finished as an eight-time All-Star, six All-Defensive selections, four-time Defensive Player of the Year, three-time block champion and two-time rebounding champion.

Mutombo joined the Rockets when he was 38 years old, but he still filled his role effectively. He played the last five seasons of his career with the Rockets and he was a member of the 2007-08 team that won 22 consecutive games.

Mutombo retired in 2009, just a couple of months before his 43rd birthday as the oldest player in the league. He was one of the best defensive players of all-time and he is still a regular at Rockets games. Mutombo is a great ambassador for the game of basketball and is beloved many teams he starred for, including Houston.